Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Based on a true story

 We've all seen movies that start with the statement that they were 'based on a true story'. But what does that really mean? I can tell you that some people have their understanding of 'based on a true story' completely wrong.

I was out at a restaurant not long ago when I heard someone at the next table talking about how scary this film that they had just watched was. Then came the key words, "Did you know that movie is based on a true story!?" They were going on and on about how scared they would be, what they would do, questioning how the family in the movie dealt with it, etc. Basically, they were talking as if the horror flick they just saw was a documentary.

That is NOT how it works. The explanation is pretty much all in the name 'based on' (we made some shit up) and 'a true story' (we didn't make some of it up). So when you think of it, it's a pretty useless disclaimer really. The movie where a family moves into a new house and starts hearing noises that turn out to be demonic or ghosts, doesn't meant that the film version is what happened. To be 'based on' they can start with the story of an actual family that were baffled by the sounds in their new house. But then the film-maker will decide that the actual fact of finding a family of Raccoons under the floors would make for a boring movie.

That's when 'artistic license takes over and someone suggests, "Hey what if instead of Raccoons, the house is built on a demonic gateway to Hell? That would sell tickets!" The same is done in a lot of bio-pics. 70, 80, or 90% of what is in the last bio-pic you watched may be true. But rarely is it all true. Things are changed to make the character seem more interesting or human. Some events may be altered or fabricated. Relationships may have been represented differently. Some true, some false.

So the next time you find yourself scared of a movie that's 'based on a true story' remember that the real events probably weren't as fantastic as they were on the big screen. And when you fear that there really may be ghosts in you wall, remember the 'phantom' Raccoons.


-Brain Hulk

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